Saturday, July 24, 2010

Still Winnable

A new Rasmussen poll has been released about the West Virginia Senate race. The results are the same as earlier polling: the anointed Democratic frontrunner, Gov. Joe Manchin, is beatable. Yeah, he leads the newly announced Republican candidate, businessman John Raese, by 16 points (51-25). But a massively popular governor who only gets 51% against a state businessman who has just announced his candidacy isn't exactly in the strongest position. (Raese did have statewide races in 1984 and 2006, but his profile isn't exactly that high in voters' minds.)

Digging into the poll numbers a little more reveals that the Republican candidate does indeed have a path to victory. As Ed Morrissey notes, Raese only racks up 56% of the support of Republicans right now; Manchin has 29%. If Raese can win bring those Republicans back home (probably not the hardest task), he can take a big bite out of Manchin's lead. Raese already leads among independent voters by twelve points. And there could be much more potential for growth here. As Morrissey suggests:
And actually, the partisan splits are telling. Raese actually beats Manchin among independents, 42/30, even though 35% of unaffiliated voters don’t know Raese well enough to have an opinion of him. Only 7% of independents don’t have an opinion of Manchin, which means a lot of independents who do have an opinion don’t want to vote for him.
Currently, 43% of West Virginia voters view Manchin as a moderate, and 65% view him to be in the mainstream (only 40% believe Raese to be in the mainstream). Flipping some of those numbers could shake the foundation of Manchin's campaign.

Health-care could be a key wedge to pry Republicans and independents away from Manchin. Obamacare is wildly unpopular. 64% of voters want it repealed. Where does Manchin stand on Obamacare? He endorsed it.

With an approval rating of 32%, Obama himself isn't very popular in West Virginia. And many WV voters view the economy to be in rough shape and getting worse: 64% rate it as poor, and 63% say economic conditions are deteriorating.

If Republicans can connect Manchin to the national Democratic party, they can win over moderates, independents, and Republicans in West Virginia. Health-care reform, Obama's unpopularity, and the economy could prove keys to a Raese victory.

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